Childbirth and newborn care is the number one reason for hospitalization in the United States. There were more than 4.2 million births in the United States in 2008, and the cost for all that maternity and newborn care in hospitals exceeded $98 billion, according to the Transforming Maternity Care website. The bottom line is that having a baby in a hospital is expensive. It helps to know what to expect before you get the bill.
The amount of your hospital bill for your pregnancy depends on a lot of factors, including the part of the country in which you live, whether your hospital is publicly or privately owned, how big your hospital is, and whether you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section. Longer hospital stays up the ante. Smaller hospitals tend to charge less than larger hospitals, and government-owned public hospitals are typically less expensive than privately owned hospitals.
Vaginal vs. Cesarean
One of the biggest cost-factors for pregnancy is whether your baby is delivered vaginally or by Cesarean section. Nearly one out of every three births in 2009 was a C-section, notes the Transforming Maternity Care website. While the typical cost of a vaginal delivery ranges from around $9,000 to $17,000, a C-section can range from $14,000 to $25,000, provided there are no complications, according to CostHelper.com. Part of the cost difference is due to the need for mothers to stay longer in the hospital after a C-section. The Southeast Georgia Health System notes that vaginal-delivery moms without complications go home 24 to 48 hours after birth, while moms having C-sections usually go home 48 to 72 hours after birth, but sometimes may need to stay as long 96 hours.
Even if you're covered by health insurance, you will likely be liable for some out-of-pocket expenses, including your deductible and co-pay costs. The exact amount depends on the provisions of your policy and can range from $500 to $3,000 according to CostHelper.com. The average out-of-pocket cost for a vaginal delivery for privately insured patients was $463 in 2007, while patients who had a C-section had average out-of-pocket expenses of $523, notes the March of Dimes.
There are a number of factors that go into making up your hospital pregnancy bills. In addition to the facility charge for mom, there will likely be a separate nursery bill for the baby, which typically ranges from $1,500 to $4,000, but can soar if the baby is premature or has other complications. Ultrasound fees can cost $500. Laboratory fees for mother and baby might run $700 to $950, according to UtahBirthCenter.com. That doesn't even include the cost of prenatal care and delivery from your OB/GYN. The March of Dimes notes that for a vaginal delivery costing $7,737, 48 percent of the total cost is for facility fees, 36 percent for professional services, 8 percent for imaging, 5 percent are outpatient drug costs, and 4 percent are for laboratory fees. Of the $10,958 for a C-section delivery, 53 percent of the cost is for facility fees, 32 percent for professional services, 7 percent for radiology and imaging, 4 percent for outpatient drug costs, and 3 percent for laboratory fees.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Outcomes by Patient and Hospital Characteristics for CCS Principal Diagnosis Category Normal pregnancy and/or Delivery
- Cost Helper: CostHelper.com > Babies & Children > Baby Delivery Baby Delivery Cost How Much Does Baby Delivery Cost?
- March of Dimes: March of Dimes Study Unveils New Data on the Cost of Having a Baby
- Utah Birth Center: Cost of a birth with The Birth Center
Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.